• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Do well-designed homes double as fetish objects?

Why are we so obsessed with our homes?

  • Aesthetics

    Votes: 6 31.6%
  • To boost the value of our homes

    Votes: 3 15.8%
  • We're trapped in an Olmsteadian nightmare

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • We want our own Versailles, to be the king or queen or our little plots of dirt

    Votes: 5 26.3%
  • To get laid

    Votes: 2 10.5%
  • Other: See below

    Votes: 2 10.5%

  • Total voters
    19

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
Fetish:

"1. An object that is believed to have magical or spiritual powers, especially such an object associated with animistic or shamanistic religious practices.

2. An object of unreasonably excessive attention or reverence.

3. Something, such as a material object or a nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification.

4. An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation."

Perhaps you've seen the TV show Trading Spaces. Maybe you've toured the Alden B. Dow home and studio in Midland, Michigan:

"The Alden B. Dow Home & Studio, a National Historic Landmark in Midland, Michigan, was designed by Alden B. Dow in 1933. Alden Dow (1904-1983), an organic architect and student of Frank Lloyd Wright, designed for 50 years throughout the United States. His Home & Studio has been preserved for architectural study, educational programming and is the repository of Mr. Dow's architectural records. Tours are available February through December...an experience you will never forget!"

People love their homes, don't they? Much time spent mowing lawns and landscaping around the porch, right? It's almost an orgasmic experience.

But why?

Why are we so obsesed with well-designed homes? Are we in it for the aesthetics? Are we looking to boost the value of our home? Are we trapped in an Olmesteadian nightmare? Or do we want our own Versailles, to be the king or queen of our little plot of dirt?

We're obsessed!
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Why do people want to dress nicely or buy an expensive car? They're status symbols. Moreover, the condition of a person's house, like their personal hygine, is a refelection of how put together they are. Finally, people like to have order in their lives, which is why they decorate and maintain their offices at work as well.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Wanigas? said:
People love their homes, don't they? Much time spent mowing lawns and landscaping around the porch, right? It's almost an orgasmic experience.

Why are we so obsesed with well-designed homes? Are we in it for the aesthetics? Are we looking to boost the value of our home? Are we trapped in an Olmesteadian nightmare? Or do we want our own Versailles, to be the king or queen of our little plot of dirt?

I don't think "good design" is on many home buyer's minds these days. What they really want is un-earned income when they sell and move to the next house. People move often enough that they only want design which is sufficiently bland and universal to appeal to the next buyer. They mow the lawn so that they don't decrease the value of the neighborhood and the value of the eventual sale.

It is this certainty that house owners will soon move which makes collecting taxes for local services so difficult. Why pay to help build a community when you expect to be gone from that community as soon as house price appreciation allows you to move to another city?
 
Last edited:

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
Well, we're having lots of fun here in Central Florida. The Orlando Sentinel is in the middle of a big expose of the new-housing industry and just how shoddily built those multiple-shades of beige, quarter-million to million dollar homes are. Hehehe... The bottom line being, "they will not wear well".

So, for all the overachievers looking to sell big, ha, the joke's on you.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,915
Points
57
I voted 'Other'.

I think there is really only a small segment of the house buyers that are really looking for good design (understanding that what is 'good design' is highly subjective).

I am in the 'Not So Big House'(tm) camp. Using the amount of money one would pay for a typical mass-produced McCrapsion house, and using it for a custom designed and built house that is built for me and my family with spaces and design features which are unique and comfortable.

As for buying an existing house, I want to buy something that is exactly, or as near as possible, to what I want in a house. Here in Metro Chi. single family houses are very expensive (more than 30% of yearly income), and there are many, many single-family houses, so I intend to wait until I find the 'right house for me' before I buy a house, or until the housing bubble bursts, whichever comes first;-).
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I'll mix jordan and wulf, and throw in a couple ideas of my own. For many people, the home is a status symbol. Why else would a retired couple have a six-bedroom, 3000 square foot home, or why would somebody tear down a 19th century mansion to put up an ugly new monster box? Wulf is also right to point out that homes tend to maintain and build equity, which is the most successful means of building wealth in this country.

Unfortunately, a large home, or even simply an expensive one, is not necessarily a well-designed one. Most people don't recognize this. I don't know how many times I have heard somebody say "maybe you could put some brick on the front" as if that is all it takes to make it look good. Frankly, I'd rather see a good design with a higher quality vinyl rather than some tacked-on masonry skirt wall.

Interiors are another matter. It does take a certain talent to lay out a house in an efficient and attractive manner. You have to consider how rooms will be used, where they will be placed, how they relate to each other, traffic patterns, utilities, and a number of other issues. That is often beyond most builders or homebuyers.

Then again, there are some people who could care less about it all. Home is just a place where they live, park their car, and watch television.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
jordanb said:
They're status symbols.
I couldn’t agree with you more here.

I believe people are looking for quantity (size) or quality (design) every time.

How many times must it be said…it is all about the bling bling (or whatever you might call it)
 

DecaturHawk

Cyburbian
Messages
880
Points
22
I agree about the fake French villas and the fake Tudors with the stained 2x4's stuck into the fake stucco. However, not everyone who wants to care for their home is into conspicuous consumption. I agree with Mendelman that a 'not so big house' is the way to go. But I love my home, and want it to look good not so much to impress the neighbors or the assorted hoi polloi, but because it's mine, my family and I live in it, and I want to be proud of it. Pride of ownership means something, I guess.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
Cardinal said:
For many people, the home is a status symbol. Why else would a retired couple have a six-bedroom, 3000 square foot home, or why would somebody tear down a 19th century mansion to put up an ugly new monster box?
So true!! That isn't even bad. I tried to talk my parents of this move: suburb leapfrog zoned area, gated community, 3200 SF 3 bedroom!! I like some of the spaces, but most of them are too big. With 12' and 14' ceilings it is like being in a cavern.

I live in a unique 70's neighborhood now and I remodeled it to update the colors. Also redid the kitchen and bathrooms. I consider that required for any home. I mean the homes that still exist today from say 1930 or earlier here, were owned by weathly families who were always changing or adding to keep up with the times. I am looking for a historic home now, but it hard to find one that has updated withwout destroying the history. It is possible, but hard to find.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,915
Points
57
Zoning Goddess said:
Well, we're having lots of fun here in Central Florida. The Orlando Sentinel is in the middle of a big expose of the new-housing industry and just how shoddily built those multiple-shades of beige, quarter-million to million dollar homes are. Hehehe... The bottom line being, "they will not wear well".
We need some links to this expose. I would love to read it.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
mendelman said:
We need some links to this expose. I would love to read it.
You might like this book, if you haven't read it yet: "The Celebration Chronicles," by Andrew Ross. I know, you've probably heard me ramble on about this book in either theory or studio three years ago, but it does a good job of tying the Florida construction industry to some of the downfalls of some aspects of New Urbanism. Definitely not an expose, but to some degree, a look under the surface.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,915
Points
57
Thanks

I'll look into it.

You, Rant? ;-)
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
Messages
2,713
Points
24
The nice thing about large homes with large spaces is the ability to modify and adapt spaces to a specific requirement for individual use.

This is more difficult in an old home (50 years or more). In small homes, space utilization becomes a factor in any project you begin to consider.

As a person who modifies my spaces, larger spaces for what I want becomes very desirable. I grew up in a home that is now 100 years old. It is built solid as a rock. There is only so much you can update on it or in it. Personally, I would rather have more space to modify to suit me.

Instead of the second or third stall in the garage, I want my brewery in that space. Rumpy's bar? build it into a rack tray system above the sink and the C02 goes in the wasted space by the garbage disposal. Having extra space is really nice.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Duke, I am presently living in a house of multiple vintages, from the late 1800's to present. I'll agree that the designs of 100 years ago can be difficult to adapt, but at the same time, they offer a charm and character you will not often find in a new home.

My biggest complaints are that I can't get large furniture upstairs, that the bathroom off the kitchen is in a bit of an awkward place, a couple of the bedrooms are small, and that the closet space is not very good. I have addressed some of that. I added a door to the back deck from one of the bedrooms and converted space under the stairs into a closet. I converted a hallway into a long closet for the master bedroom, and converted a wasted loft space into a second bathroom. An unheated porch serves mostly as a storage room. While the solutions are not perfect, I would argue that the nooks and crannies, odd angles, and overall adapted appearance gives the place a warmer feeling than I see in most new houses.

The result of my work was to create a house that has the spaces I need. It wasn't a question of how muchspace I had, but of how it was used. Mostly, I need living area instead of bedrooms. I now have a master bedroom and spare bedroom, a living room, dining room, library, kitchen, and seasonal porch.

The brewery can go in the basement, with the wine cellar.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
I think home design can be a matter of fetishization. I am a sad victim of this, at times. But, I don't drink or do drugs, and this is one of my addictions :)

(Its now time for Super Amputee Cat to join this thread and accuse us all of being evil, degenerate yuppies who the REVOLUTION will purify in the flames of socialist anti-consumerism :) )
 

martini

Cyburbian
Messages
678
Points
19
I voted for asthetics simply 'cause thats what I look for in a house. I'm a victim of good design(again, subjective), and strive for it heartily. My house now is a 1920 Craftsman that I absolutely love. It odd in that it has lots of large spaces, and a more open flowing floor plan. My next house tough, is gonna be tough. I want something that would be seen in Dwell Magazine, but I don't think we'll be ableto afford it. We'll try to get close to that ideal though. If that doesn't work, I most definitely fall into the 'not so big house' camp as well. Actually, I think the two work together well stylistically.

In the general populace though, I think its all about the bling bling you see on the outside. Buy the house to make money off of it, so you can buy another, bigger house, so you can make MORE money off it, ad nauseum. Its too bad. I'd rather spend my money on a well built, smartly designed smaller house than one that may collapse in a few years.

We've had a few cases in the Mpls area about some of these McMansions being overtaken with Black mold and the builder/developer refusing to do anything about it. These home are typically only a few years old and essentially have to be rebuilt to get rid of the mold. Its rather scary.
 
Top